It’s just such a travesty that Adam Wingard’s shot at the “Blair Witch” mythology flopped and has been generally derided by fans alike. I, for one, completely loved “Blair Witch,” not only for being such a unique and terrifying experience, but for the respect Adam Wingard has for the mythology. Even if you never bothered to watch those documentaries about Burkittsville, director Wingard brings everything full circle, including nods to the documentaries, the much derided sequel, and the original film. It’s a legacy sequel, but one that also acts as an impromptu book end to the whole series. After this I don’t know when we’ll ever see anything about the Blair Witch ever again, but it’s a great consolation the series goes out on this note.
Robert Eggers’ debut “The Witch” is a marvelous and absolutely mesmerizing film. It’s not just an incredible horror film, but a fantastic examination of how a family basically tears itself from inside out due to ideas of resentment, sexual repression, and pure isolation. Not many directors debut with a bang, but “The Witch” is a slow burn horror film that begins with the fuse burning and burning until Eggers delivers something of a humongous explosion that will leave audiences speechless. Eggers sets his film on 17th Century New England, where a patriarch of a small family named William is threatened with banishment by a puritanical plantation with his wife, daughter Thomasin, younger son Caleb, and fraternal twins Mercy and Jonas. Vowing to free himself of the puritanical village, William builds a secluded farm at the edge of the woods, swearing to thrive with his family at his side.
There’s never been anything like Jason Lei Howden’s “Deathgasm” before and I doubt there will ever be anything like it ever again. “Deathgasm” is one of the very few death metal horror movies I’ve ever seen and it’s one that will definitely touch on the right spots for horror fanatics, despite the fact that it’s heavily centered on characters that live and breathe death metal music. For them, it’s a way of life and eventually becomes the downfall of humanity. “Deathgasm” is a shockingly excellent horror comedy that focuses more on the coming of age of its main character and how he uses the eventual demon apocalypse to discover something about himself.
Once upon a time, Kevin Smith decided that he liked “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” so much that he’d copy the cliff notes and paste them on to a recycled fossil of his former glory in the shape of “Clerks” and build himself a brand spankin’ new cult classic. Instead what we get is a movie pandering to teens that is very obviously made by a fifty year old man if he were trying to write like Diablo Cody. I imagine Kevin Smith spent much of his time writing his screenplay for “Yoga Hosers” and promising to cast daughter Harley Quinn in it if she helped with the dialogue and much of the modern colloquialisms. Meanwhile he stuck to what he knew: which is stuff about convenience store clerks, and mocking Canada wholesale. There are shelves of maple syrup in the background, and boxes of cereal like “Cheeri-EHs.” Plus, our two main characters begin their work shift (almost in a subliminal apology to the audience) muttering in repetition “Sawrry Aboot That.”
I guess if you’re going to try to spoof a hit horror movie, you might as well bring with you the star of said film. For better and for worse, Linda Blair is now and will always be associated with her star making turn as Regan in “The Exorcist.” Sadly, she’s more known for the movie, than being a strong actress who gave a strong and compelling performance. Blair uses the chance starring in “Repossessed” to burn the whole motherfucking kit and caboodle to the ground hamming it up big time in a role that’s basically Regan 2.0 if Regan became a doting housewife revisited by Pazuzu. This time, though, she’s named Nancy. Get it? Nancy Regan?
Just in time for Halloween 2016 comes one of the best horror indie anthologies of the last six years. “Tales of Halloween” is a sick, demented, and fun ode to the thrill of Halloween and its mythology and brings together up and comers and veterans of the horror film world to spin their own twisted yarns concerning the holiday many horror buffs hold so dearly to them. Epic Pictures grants fans a wonderful box set edition that holds all sorts of goodies for them. The best prize of all is “Tales of Halloween,” a movie that pays tribute to everything fun and horrifying about the holiday with ten short tales starring folks like Lin Shaye, and Adrienne Barbeau who unofficially reprises her role of Stevie Wayne as the film’s Halloween DJ who narrates every story. The neat touch to the movie is that every story unfolds within the vicinity of a normal suburban neighborhood on Halloween night.
You have to love Bruce Campbell’s attitude toward “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” He’s like that angry dad who you keep asking for bike for your birthday and he keeps telling you that he has no money, and to shut your trap, or he’s locking you in the basement with the other bad kids. Then on your birthday, he shows up with a brand new bike and says “Well I got it because… you know… you’re a good kid, and you wouldn’t shut up about it. Now go get me a pack of smokes.” Bruce is that kind of man who loves his fans despite the gruff exterior and rewarded us with “Ash vs. Evil Dead” because we wouldn’t shut up about it. And because, you know, you can’t have Ash without Campbell. Just in time for Halloween, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” gets everything right about the “Evil Dead” movie series.
I am loving the resurgence of the horror anthology and how horror filmmakers are playing with the format. “Southbound” is very much a new horror anthology that holds no title cards or segues, but instead features five stories that intersect in some way or another. It’s almost like “Pulp Fiction,” but just not as brilliant. in fact, in the end, it’s really a mixed bag of horror tales that are held up by a genuine sense of terror and unease that seeps through the film from beginning to the end. Even when I wasn’t completely invested in a tale, I appreciated the unnerving aesthetic set amid the endless and desolate back roads of America.